Spokane Burn Injury Attorney
Burn Injury Advocates with Empathy and Compassion
In the aftermath of a severe burn injury, Sweetser Law Office understands the extraordinary physical and psychological trauma you are going through. All too often, burn injuries are completely preventable. Nevertheless, even when you try to get compensation, the landlords, insurance adjusters and others try to minimize your claims. It does not have to be this way. Sweetser Law Office is skilled in fire and burn injuries, with the experience and dedication necessary to help burn injury victims get justice after everything they have suffered.
At Sweetser Law Office, we are committed to standing by you, advocating for your rights, and seeking justice for the pain and suffering you’ve endured. Victims of fires and other burn injuries are left with massive medical bills, lost wages, physical and psychological scars. Depending on the seriousness of the burn and scar, victims may need additional surgeries and the scars may continue to cause pain, and limited range of motions. Scars to the face are extremely serious and often change a person’s self-image. When a severe burn damages the skin’s essential functions, victims often endure physical limitations and the risk of infections or skin cancer. The aftermath includes large scars that can’t always be concealed, often leading to social challenges and emotional struggles. Scarring may lead to stares, invasive questions, or comments, especially for children. Young burn survivors may experience lasting self-consciousness, social shyness, or emotional issues, altering their everyday lives. The result is drastically changed lives.
At Sweetser Law Office, we recognize the comprehensive impact of burn injuries and are here to support your journey to recovery. Burn injuries, with their lasting physical and emotional consequences, demand accountability. Sweetser Law Office is here to ensure those responsible are held accountable for the preventable pain and suffering you’ve endured. Our firm will use our extensive network of experts ranging from chemical engineers, plastic surgeons, physical capacity evaluators, psychologists, and product designers, to hold those responsible accountable. Prompt investigation is essential. It is critically important to preserve evidence about what might have caused your burn injury. Take photographs of the burn injury near in time to the incident. You deserve both justice and compensation for what you’ve endured, and we are here to help you achieve it.
Sweetser Law Office is here for you when you're ready to take the next step. Contact us today at (509) 444-4444 for a free consultation. We want to be part of your team supporting burn injury victims on the path to justice and recovery.
Understanding the Depth of Burn Injuries
Burn injury cases are complex. Burns can affect not only the skin, but the blood vessels, muscles, nerves, and bone. Once the skin has been melted through, a person’s nerves are then traumatized which can cause severe permanent damage to the nerve damage and body tissues. Our skin is not just a covering, but a vital organ. Our skin regulates body temperature and hydration, protects us from disease, and allows us to move easily without pain. So when a severe burn destroys the skin’s elasticity, the sweat glands, the hair follicles, the nerves, and the blood vessels victims find they literally cannot use the affected area. Permanent damage to skin, tissues and nerves limits the effective range of limb movement in addition to causing serious new risks such as fatal infections or skin cancer.
Severe burns cause wounds that are more than just skin deep. Physical healing is just one part of burn care. Severe burn victims are often left with large unsightly scars that cannot always be hidden. Disfiguration of the body’s physical beauty can cause people or children to stare, ask invasive questions or make comments. And for some burn victims, especially younger children, burns can lead to permanent self-consciousness, social shyness, or emotional problems that affect normal everyday life. Victims often continue to encounter physical and psychological pain and disability, disfigurement, isolation or social rejection.
Burn injuries are one of the most painful injuries to sustain, and recovering from them can require extensive medical care, physical therapy, even plastic surgery or scar revision. Burn victims then face mounting medical bills, in addition to missed time from work and new caretaking needs. Dealing with all of this does not become any easier when the burn injury was caused by the recklessness of another person, company, or organization.
Accountability for Severe Burn Injuries
Burn injury statistics show that at least fifty percent of all burn injuries are preventable. An ounce of prevention can protect our families and our children (children are the primary victims) from burn injuries caused by scalding, heat, harsh chemicals, radiation, electricity, friction or during a car accident.
Most burns, whether they happen at home or at work, result from preventable accidents. These accidents can occur due to a person’s careless or negligent actions or because of defective or faulty products.
Common causes of Burn Injuries:
- Car, truck or motorcycle accidents
Hazardous or poorly kept property
- Defective products or home appliances (water heaters, stoves)
- Scalding water or pipes
- Landlord not following fire-safety rules
- Restaurant, business or hotel not up to code
- Chemical burn
- Faulty electrical cord wiring
- Flammable clothing and home furnishings
- Defective vehicles or vehicle parts leading to fire
- Faulty safety systems (smoke detectors, fire alarms)
- Improper labeling of hot items
- House or apartment building fire
- Road rash or friction burn
- Playground equipment
There are up to 500,000 burn injuries that require medical attention in the U.S. every year, according to the American Burn Association. Up to 50,000 burn patients require hospitalization, and nearly half must be admitted to a specialized Burn Unit or Intensive Care Unit (ICU), according to the National Institutes of Health.
Types of Burn Injuries
Thermal, electrical, chemical, radiation and friction burns are distinct types of burn injuries.
- Thermal – Thermal burns are the most common and result from contact with hot objects, steam or flames. Scalds are the most common for children, and adult thermal burns are most commonly caused by fire.
- Electrical – An electrical burn results from contact with electricity, such as a live power line or lightning. Electrical currents can pass through the body and cause internal damage as well as external burns, and can be mild or severe.
- Chemical – A chemical burn results from the skin touching an acidic or base chemical that destroys or damages the tissues. Chemical burns are painful and cause human tissue to itch, flake, burn or slough off, which can lead to permanent scarring and disability. For example, if someone suffers a chemical burn to the eyes, which permanently affects their sight. If the victim ingests a harmful chemical, it can cause significant internal damage.
- Radiation – A radiation burn results from exposure to a source of radiation, such as the sun’s ultraviolet rays or an x-ray machine. Radiation burns can cause itchiness, flaking, peeling, redness and blistering.
- Friction – Friction burns occur when skin is dragged repeatedly over a rough surface, like in the case of road rash.
Burns are also broken down into first, second, third and fourth degree burns.
- First degree burns only affect the surface layer of the skin. When you have a first degree burn, it might be from brushing your hand against a hot pot on the stove. You might notice redness and maybe some minor inflammation. You can typically feel better with some aloe and by running your hand under cool water.
- Second degree burns are more serious. The burn is deeper into the layers of the skin. You may have a second degree burn if you accidentally put your hand on the rim of a fire pit where it’s been burning hot all night. You will likely see more extreme redness, your skin may blister and the healing time may take weeks.
- Third degree burns are sometimes referred to as a “full thickness burn”. The damage extends through two full layers of skin. While a second-degree burn typically turns the skin red, a third-degree burn often turns the skin black, brown, white, or yellow. This level of burn also causes damage to nerve endings.
- Fourth degree burns are the most severe. They usually happen when your skin experiences a scalding liquid/steam, burning flame, or prolonged exposure to extreme heat. These types of burns can get into all of the layers of your skin and they can even wreak havoc on your organs and sometimes even bone. You will see your skin become blackened or charred. You may suffer nerve damage permanently, have hypothermia, and some victims die from these burns. You would need immediate medical attention.
In addition to the initial and immediate trauma a burn can cause, a severe burn injury can also cause lasting impact. A 2016 study titled “Long-Term Study Of Health And Quality Of Life After Burn Injury” from the National Library of Medicine noted that longterm affects of burns can include “scarring, contractures, weakness, thermoregulation, itching, pain, sleep, body image and psychosocial wellbeing.” This study looked at the ability for burn victims to reach full health in the aftermath of their injury, and defined health as going beyond just a lack of infirmity, but also including true wellbeing, independence, access to a social life, and more.
Burn injuries can strip away the protective layer of skin and leave the victim susceptible to several complications.
- Hypothermia: Burns can disrupt the body’s ability to regulate temperature, leading to hypothermia and organ damage.
- Infection: Burn injuries can leave the victim vulnerable to infection, which can cause severe illness and even death.
- Scarring: Burn injuries can cause permanent scarring, and some victims may not be able to have plastic surgery.
- Failed Skin Grafts: Failed skin grafts can cause additional pain and suffering for the victim and may require further procedures.
Medical studies have shown that complications arising from burns can result in long-term health problems, including reduced quality of life, and even death.
Treating a burn can be very costly and extensive. Complications and infections are common and require further treatment to heal. If you were unfortunate enough to have a third-degree burn, you will likely have to go through a lot of years of treatment. Burn accidents are often traumatic. Needed mental health care is important to your wellbeing. Extensive burns can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars for treatment, repeat admission, and rehabilitation. For instance:
- Emergency room care
- Burn center unit or rehabilitation in-patient care
- Surgical procedures
- Physical therapy
- Short- or long-term disability
In addition to the medical treatment expenses, burn injury victims are entitled to recover for the following types of damages:
- Loss of function
- Burn-related chronic medical problems
- Loss of sensation
- Permanent disability
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Family member loss of income due to caregiving
Sweetser Law Office is dedicated to improving the lives of everyone affected by a burn injury. Burn injuries are often severe and life-changing, so you owe it to yourself to be sure you have the right legal advocate. With an experienced attorney on your side, you can focus on recovery and getting back to the things you love, while knowing that your lawyer is working on your behalf. We will do everything possible to obtain justice from those responsible for your burns. Accountability promotes safety by preventing and deterring preventable burns and the devastating impacts that burns and scarring can cause to other members of the community.